Rich Roll may not yet have the name recognition of Brendan Brazier or Scott Jurek in the plant-based endurance world, but his story sure deserves to be heard.
What makes Rich’s story so inspiring, as he tells it in his new book, Finding Ultra, is that in reading it you come to realize that this man who now excels at the Ultraman — a triathlon about double the Ironman distance, spread over three days, ending with a 52-mile ultramarathon — is actually a whole lot like you and me.
Looking at Rich’s resume now, it’s hard to believe that just five years ago, he didn’t do much of anything physical: didn’t run, didn’t cycle, and hadn’t done much swimming in his 20 years since college. And he most certainly didn’t do Ultramans or anything resembling EPIC5, an event consisting of five Iron-distance triathlons, one on each of Hawaii’s islands, in the span of a week, that he and his buddy cooked up for fun.
On top of all that, as a busy lawyer he didn’t give a second thought to what he was eating after a hard day of work. And as it turns out, the shift to eating plants is what started it all for Rich, when at nearly age 40 he got a wake up call and decided he needed to change, starting with his diet. In his words:
I can say with full confidence that my rapid transformation from middle-aged couch potato to Ultraman—to, in fact, everything I’ve accomplished as an endurance athlete—begins and ends with my PlantPower Diet.
That alone would make for an interesting story. Who just decides to go vegan, gets off the couch and starts running, and a year and a half later turns in a respectable finish at one of the toughest endurance events on the planet, only to be named one of the fittest men alive shortly after that?